Our children thrive when supported by a quality educator in a positive learning environment. To support these students we need to give them access to world-class education with that opportunity expanding to every NJ community. Common threads connect us - schools need to be safe, our children healthy, in classrooms led by passionate and engaged educators.
The safety of our children, especially in light of the tragic events of Newtown CT, is a significant concern that touches every heart and every school district in New Jersey. I’m Co-Sponsor of an Assembly bill (A373) that would require school buildings to be equipped with emergency lighting and panic alarms, linked to law enforcement. These measures are needed in an emergency to keep our students, educators, and communities safe.
The value we place on the health of our kids is expressed in two important recent measures; the first (A304), would require our schools to have epinephrine available and permit its administration to help children believed to be suffering from anaphylactic reactions. We know that allergic reactions can be quite serious and that if they occur access to medicine in an urgent time frame can make a difference.
The second legislative effort focuses on the important topic of children and nutrition. The New Jersey “Farm to School” initiative (A2642) and the School Garden Fund makes nutrition a priority in schools. These efforts allow individuals to make financial contributions (via income tax returns) to support the Farm to School program. These efforts promote healthy eating and focus procurement on local growers and producers. These efforts place local fresh foods in schools, with the aim of bring new and innovative approaches to healthy eating.
A major piece of legislation, which I was proud to be the Prime Sponsor, is the “Tuition Equality Act” (A4225). This bill became known colloquially known as the Tuition Equity for DREAMers Act and “allows certain students including undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria to qualify for in-state tuition at public institutions of higher education and state financial aid.” This law brings access to higher education to more of our state's young people and adult learners. The DREAM Act is transformational; it emboldens the American dream, boosts our economy, increasing personal growth and learning potential. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law in 2014.